Jason Baldinger


that night sticks out, weird, clear
like nothing else in those months
I woke up with no voice, I mean
I had a voice, it was so far inside
I couldn’t get the motherfucker out
I sat there on the couch, didn’t
feel much and couldn’t feel much
it was restlessness that drove me out
to the car, the street lights had a strange glow
I figured if I stopped at work I could find someone
to talk to, instead I sat there watching everyone leave
I felt like a panic attack, I’d never had a panic attack
couldn’t understand why humans turned green
I watched them pass, co-workers and friends
it was too much to get my voice out, to jump
out and say I’m here, please recognize me, tell me everything is alright
I followed the cars out, hit the highway, drove half the night
no idea where, until I was home
then I slept for a month straight getting up for work only

my mother left my stepfather
my brother was recovering from a near fatal accident
my grandmother was in poor health and needed constant care
I was alone with this, not equipped
with the tools to understand what was happening
this was a psychotic episode, precursor
to a nervous breakdown, the beginning
another salvo in an endless fight with depression

I would spend years underwater
a year later I started to work over nights
then I stopped sleeping, then I stopped eating
none of that helped

it may have been three years before my mother
and I stumbled into a heated argument, the next day she said
I scheduled a doctor’s appointment for you

I went to the family doctor
whose first question was
are you on drugs?
not in the I have to ask this way
but in the accusation kind of way
that was it for me

he prescribed Zoloft
a month of free samples
told me sometimes we get sad
its ok to be sad, in my head
I was saying fuck you. I knew this
was more complicated than just being sad

I took the script a few weeks
life was brighter around the edges
I didn’t like that I could feel the blood move in my head
the first time someone said something to me and my reaction
was alright man cool, when the reaction
inside was fuck you asshole
that was the last time I took Zoloft

I went to the doctors a month later
to check my progress, he asked how the pills worked
I said I flushed them, the color went out of his face
he reminded me it’s alright to be sad
it’s alright to ask for help


Jason Baldinger is a poet hailing from Pittsburgh and recently finished a stint as writer in residence at the Osage Arts Community. He’s the author of several books, the most recent are This Useless Beauty (Alien Buddha Press), The Ugly Side of the Lake (Night Ballet Press) written with John Dorsey and the chaplet Fumbles Revelations (Grackle and Crow) which are available now. The collection Fragments of a Rainy Season (Six Gallery Press) and the split book with James Benger Little Fires Hiding (Spartan Press) are forthcoming. Recent publications include the Low Ghost Anthology Unconditional Surrender, The Dope Fiend Daily, Outlaw Poetry, Lilliput Review, Rusty Truck, In Between Hangovers, Your One Phone Call, Winedrunk Sidewalk, Nerve Cowboy Concrete Meat Press, Zombie Logic Press, Ramingo’s Porch, Rye Whiskey Review, Red Fez, Mad Swirl, Blue Hour Review and Heartland! Poetry of Love, Solidarity and Resistance. You can hear Jason read poems on recent and forthcoming releases by Theremonster and Sub Pop Recording artist The Gotobeds as well as at jasonbaldinger.bandcamp.com